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I was almost killed by a catastrophic engine failure and in-flight fire. An exhaustive NTSB investigation found improper maintenance by Piedmont Hawthorne Aviation was the probable cause of the accident. Piedmont Hawthorne, who claims to be the second largest FBO chain in the country, maintains everything from single engine aircraft to airliners. They showed little concern for their unsafe actions. The FAA completed an enforcement action against the Piedmont Hawthorne employee who inspected and signed off on my aircraft as "airworthy".
After being contacted by a number of other pilots who had similar close calls at the hands of poor maintenance shops, I started the Aircraft Pilots for Better Maintenance web site, http://www.aircraft-maintenance.com . Other pilots shared many pages of comments about good and bad shops on this site. Many of the unfavorable comments named Piedmont Hawthorne shops.
Piedmont Hawthorne did not address the safety and customer relations concerns that pilots voiced on the website. Instead Piedmont Hawthorne filed a SLAPP suit (lawyer-talk for Strategic Litigation Against Public Protest) to try to suppress the freedom of pilots to discuss safety issues on the Internet.
In their SLAPP suit Piedmont Hawthorne refers to an engine failure and in-flight fire as a "unscheduled landing". In a recent letter to a pilot, Piedmont Hawthorne insisted their work was: "proper and customary according to industry practice". Those statements should give pause to every pilot.
Please click here to email Piedmont Hawthorne. Tell them what you think of their attempt to kill pilot free speech.
Please forward this email to others concerned about aviation safety.
If Piedmont has done any maintenance on your aircraft, you may want to have it checked by a reputable shop.
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